Friday, February 26, 2010

A Litany of Literature

Last week I took my children to a production of Goodnight Moon (one of my early favorites) and the Runaway Bunny. I didn't know what to expect because the text is so slight in both of those books, but the experience turned out to be wonderful. The theater troupe, dressed in black, maneuvered puppets around the stage. The sets were magical, with the room in Goodnight Moon done in phosphorescent paint and lit with black light.

But, I digress. As a youngster I also was really fond of Dr. Seuss with Hop on Pop and Go Dog Go being the first books I read on my own. Then there were the Berenstain Bears, Encyclopedia Brown, the Animals at Maple Hill Farm, Richard Scarry's stuff, Amelia Bedilia, Peter Pan, Rikki Tikki Tavi (My dad used to use voices when he read and I particularly remember him being a great mongoose.), and the Jungle Book (the Disney version).

I was a devotee of the Bobbsey Twins and have a whole collection to share, although I don't think my boys will be all that interested. I devoured the Chronicles of Narnia, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as well as the books that followed.

Gosh...Ramona the Pest, anything Judy Blume (even Forever, which someone passed around in fifth grade), the Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, Black Beauty, Sweet Valley High...

As for my teenage years, it becomes harder to distinguish between what I picked up for fun and what I was required to read. Perhaps this is because I enjoyed most of my reading assignments and they were probably, for the most part, more memorable and meaningful than whatever I chose.

I do know that I read Gone with the Wind, the North and South books, and the Power of One on my own. Of those that were for school, I loved For Whom the Bell Tolls, Pride and Prejudice (still a favorite), Catch 22, Slaughterhouse Five (Karen Vonnegut, Kurt's niece, was a roommate of mine at Cornell), the Great Gatsby, Crime and Punishment, Cry the Beloved Country, Lord of the Flies.

Some of the newer books I've enjoyed with my children, include Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Bear's New Friend, the Toy Boat, Snowmen at Night, and Mortimer's First Christmas. I also reread Little House on the Prairie recently with my son and a shortened version of Around the World in 80 Days. Now, he is even interested in listening to Harry Potter, thanks to a commercial he keeps seeing during the Olympics, but we'll see.

So much good stuff out there...As for young adult fiction, which I'm reading for solely for research (yeah, right!), I seem to be stuck in the supernatural...I liked Twilight, (sorry, Trager), Fallen, Hush, Hush, and Shiver. A really terrific book is Sherman Alexi's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian and a page-turner is The Hunger Games.

Sorry for such a long post...the memories just kept coming.


  1. What the ?!?!?! Monta? You never mentioned, in a group of WRITERS, that Vonnegut's niece was your college roommate?? I am so interested in that production of Good Night Moon/Runaway Bunny--where was it? I'm bummed i missed it. Ah, Sweet Valley High--i read few of those and joke that i shall name the twins Jessica and Elizabeth. Except that we're totally naming them Sasha and Malia. NOT!!!

    I LOVE Snowmen at Night. I like Don't Let Pigeon Drive the Bus but could take or leave most of the others in that series. And for the record, I DO like some of the Twilight world--i just don't think the writing is very good, i was very disappointed in the last book, and you know--"healthy relationship"?? There are plenty of not-so-healthy relationships in my vampire story but they're not presented as the greatest love story ever for a teenage girl. How is Fallen? i have been wondering about that and some older ones like Blood and Chocolate, Nightworld, etc.

  2. If it makes my gaffe any better, even though my roommate was Vonnegut's niece, she didn't know him all that well, and didn't have any good stories to share. (I also was friends, for a time, with Brandi Coors. Oh, and Jeremy Schaap was the sports editor of the Cornell Daily Sun. There I've come clean now:-) )

    Fallen is a good story. I look forward to the sequel. Blue Bloods is a pretty entertaining series too. I can't recommend the Hunger Games highly enough. I haven't read the other two that you mentioned.

    Good Night Moon was at the College of DuPage last week. They put on a series of children's performances there each year. I don't think they are publicized because they cater mostly to school groups, but our homeschool group participates and gets tickets to the various shows. We're going to see the Little Engine that Could later this spring. You have to book in in the fall, though, as far as I know. I can share the list with you for 2010-2011, if you like, when I get it in September.

  3. The Runaway Bunny is one of my favorite of all time. I haven't seen that book since I was a kid. I loved when the little bunny joined the circus and his mom said And I will become a tight rope walker and follow you. The image of that page has stuck with me for a long time.

    Since you have read Fallen and Hush Hush I will use you to tell me if my manuscript stands apart from these novels since they also contain fallen angels.I was so disappointed when I saw these in the bookstore. I started my manuscript years ago. I hate when that happens. The name for my manuscript was even titled Fallen. I've decided to attempt to finish the first 25 pages for the professional critique.

  4. The circus and tightrope walker part in the puppet theater was really cool. The baby bunny did a whole trapeze show if you can believe it.

    I'm sorry that the title of your manuscript was snatched. I'm sure your ideas do stand apart. I'm glad to help in any way.


  5. I've read Hush Hush but not Fallen. I wasn't overly impressed. I'm sure yours will be better, so don't give up on it. You were ahead of the trend, but publishers might be looking for more right now, because of the new popularity of angels. I've also had an angel idea for awhile (sorry). But it's a little different; a middle grade novel in a boys point of view, very action packed, maybe part graphic novel, well see.
    Since Monta came clean, I also have an association with a great author. My sister-in law's niece's mother is Suzy Kline. (Did that make sense?)I once sent her some first pages and she was very helpful and supportive.
    Oh, and once my Dad told me that we were related to Herman Melville. As a child who loved books, I thought that was pretty special.

  6. Oh yes - Bobsey Twins, Trixie Belden and Cherry Ames! No relations as great or nearly great....